At the end of our tenth year of marriage, we had three sons, one BSc. degree in physics and I was at the beginning of my engineering career at North American Aviation. My wife, Patty, was an essential partner in all of the above. I am assuming that the reader has learned about the “birds and the bees” and needs no explanation about our partnership in producing three sons. However, her part in the “BSc. degree” requires some deeper explanation.
Early in our marriage, somewhere near the third year, I was employed by the Revere Brass & Copper Co. as a machinist. I was making the highest hourly rate possible in my craft – two dollars per hour. It is hard now to comprehend that I felt very fortunate to be making top wages! However, several years earlier I had concluded that I would not be content spending the rest of my life making”top wages” – not as a husband, not as a father, and not as a person. I needed a plan of action that I could follow to get a college degree. It was obvious to me that the only plan that was open to me was to continue to work full time, meet my responsibilities to my family, and go to college full time. In order to even start, I knew that I had to get Patty’s wholehearted cooperation and her permission to proceed. Soon after, we talked it through and she agreed that we would do it together. It also meant I would have to work nights in order to get the classes I would need for a BSc. degree. Soon thereafter, I went to work for North American Aviation as a night shift machinist in the Aerospace Division, located in Downey, California. Seven years later, we had our BSc. degree, a third son, a great future ahead of us, and, best of all, our marriage was stronger and we were still friends! The next fifty eight years proved that our optimism was well founded. Those seven years were the kind of years that would strain any marriage, certainly it strained ours, but we, especially Patty, proved up to the tasks as our life presented them to us.
It is impossible for me to overstate the importance of Patty’s many strengths to my life as I experienced it – Patty WAS my life. I still cannot believe she is gone. I cannot countenance the reality that she is gone forever. But I must, if I am ever to match the many examples of her inner strength. I am trying!